What’s the best way to migrate?

Last year I went through my own Mac migration. My wife’s ancient 2006 MacBook in lovely white polycarbonate had a good long life, but was just about becoming unusable. With a maxed out 2GB of RAM and a Core Duo (not a typo) processor, I was actually impressed how long it was relatively functional. This was my first time moving across Apple products, so I was a little nervous.

Following the official Apple method of transferring to the shiny new MacBook Pro, I fired up Migration Assistant on the old plastic pal. It told me to connect to the new Mac by either Ethernet or USB. Since the new Mac was bereft of an Ethernet port, I decided to go with the latter. I plugged it in, hit start, and walked away. Checking back in an hour later, I was aghast to see the estimated time left to be around 35 hours. I quickly purchased a Thunderbolt 2 to Ethernet adapter, finished the transfer in 20 minutes, and promptly listed it on Ebay.

Overall, I wish I had seen a guide like Jason Snell put together. I didn’t have an issue with the actual transfer itself (other than being temporarily flummoxed by USB 2.0), but after the transfer I was less than impressed with the result. The transfer was a little too perfect. A persistent error from some old Java install followed my wife over to her new Mac! And now, I can’t seem to get it off the new machine!

In summary: Java is evil, Ethernet is faster than USB 2.0, and there’s more than one way to migrate a Mac.

Six Colors comments:

I have spent an awful lot of time migrating my data to various Macs over the years. (If you want to review a product, you need to use it, and that means bringing over enough of your stuff to do that.) Recently with the release of the new MacBook Pro models, I got to do two more data migrations, which led to a string of conversations on Twitter about the “right way” to move from one Mac to another.

Truth is, there’s no one right way to migrate. I’ve tried them all, and they all have their issues. Let’s walk through the options and consider their strengths and weaknesses.


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About the author

Rich Stroffolino

Rich has been a tech enthusiast since he first used the speech simulator on a Magnavox Odyssey². Current areas of interest include ZFS, the false hopes of memristors, and the oral history of Transmeta.

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